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A Conversation with Toronto Mayor John Tory

By: Charlie Newark-French
Published: June 16, 2021

Hyperscience is honored to speak with John Tory, the 65th Mayor of Toronto. In 2020, we established an office in Toronto and continue to expand our presence there, hiring for critical technical roles including Machine Learning Engineer and Backend Software Engineer.

Born and raised in the city, Mayor Tory has helped Toronto emerge as a center of innovation and opportunity at the world stage. Charlie Newark-French, our COO, took a few minutes to speak with Mayor Tory to discuss the beauty of Toronto, the need to modernize critical government services, and what he’s most looking forward to.

What are your hopes & aspirations for the City of Toronto coming out of the pandemic? What is your vision for the future?
Before the pandemic, Toronto was the fastest growing city in North America – people and businesses were choosing our city to set down new roots. We want the same thing for this year, and we know we can accomplish that. Despite the many challenges brought forward from the pandemic, it’s a new year and we are bigger, bolder and more successful. We must make choices now that will affect and transform our city for the better and for the future. Our goal is to maintain and build upon our standing as a dynamic and diverse global city. To do this, we must make strategic investments in transportation, housing and infrastructure needs, and we are making record investments in those areas. If Torontonians can access affordable places to live, a reliable transit system, and green spaces, people can come here and thrive and grow. We want to continue pushing for those things, investing in them and making sure we are creating an environment for people and businesses.

You’ve been vocal about modernizing the government services on which people rely. How does your office think about digitizing your own operations and the services you provide?
Before the pandemic at the City we were slower to adapt to these new changes and to modernize our systems in place. The pandemic produced an urgent need for this when everything was forced to go online. Now it is critical to ensure that Toronto’s residents and businesses can conveniently transact and interact with their municipal government where, when and how they want. Modernizing government remains top of mind when strategically planning for our city’s recovery and future. To achieve this outcome, we are working towards the following priorities (at an accelerated rate of speed):

  • Digital Government: Offering City services in a cost-effective manner to the public and businesses in a digitally integrated, seamless, convenient, and increasingly personalized way.
  • Workplace Modernization Program: Enabling the delivery of City priorities through effective use of real estate, modern office space, and flexible work culture.
  • Digital Equity: Addressing structural barriers and ensuring digital access is available to all households to ensure City residents are connected – not divided – by technology.
  • Corporate Centralization: Centralizing key corporate services to create greater value, efficiencies, and standardization across the City through these services.

Toronto has emerged as a flourishing tech hub in recent years. Hyperscience recently expanded our operations there, and we’re hiring for key tech roles! Why do you think that is?
There are three main reasons that Toronto has become a sought-after destination for both technology companies and talent. Most importantly, we have a talent pool that is second-to-none in North America. We graduate over 25,000 students in STEM related programs every year in the Toronto Region, with nearly 290,000 people employed in tech related jobs – and that’s growing. The Toronto Region has had the fastest growing tech talent pool out of all major North American tech hubs, faster than Silicon Valley. Our friendly immigration policies also allow us to attract skilled talent from all over the world. A rich and deep talent pool and a robust pipeline attract even more smart people and companies.

Secondly, we have a diverse economy that allows for any type of business or industry to succeed. We’re a top 10 global financial services centre, as well as one of the top technology and life sciences ecosystems in North America. This critical mass of industry and investment is drawing the top technology companies from around the world and many of the smartest people.

Finally, we have an outstanding quality of life in Toronto. We are a safe, cost-effective, vibrant and diverse place to live, work, and play. We are a global centre for film and the arts, food, music and innovation, and have built a society based on respect and embrace of diversity.

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and hardship, but it also taught us about the resiliency of the human spirit. When you reflect on all that transpired, are there inspiring stories you can recall?
Throughout the pandemic we have seen many examples of people coming together to support one another. We saw it at the beginning when people were feeding frontline workers, banging pots and pans at 7 PM every night for the work that our frontline healthcare workers were doing, grabbing groceries for a neighbour who was quarantining and a general supportive attitude to one another. As we progressed in the pandemic, that didn’t stop. People started supporting businesses who were facing difficulties, they continued to support our frontline and essential workers who allowed us to run the city and now we are seeing people help each other get vaccinated. We have seen fantastic organizations like the volunteer-led Vaccine Hunters, which the city has partnered with to get vaccine information out to the public via social media; and people who are checking in on loved ones, friends, and neighbours to make sure they are getting vaccinated, have a ride to their appointment or are able to access information.

It truly has been an all hands-on-deck approach and I think we have seen that time and time again. Not just during the pandemic, but that Toronto spirit has been alive before and will continue to be there once this is all over.

What are you most excited about over the next 12-18 months?
I’m looking forward to resuming the outstanding quality of life that’s enjoyed throughout this city. We have a thriving arts, culture, sport, and entertainment scene – from festivals to sporting events to our beautiful parks and beaches, we are a hotbed of year-round activity. We are anxious to get back to enjoying all that we have to offer and once again welcoming newcomers and visitors to experience it alongside us.

Thank you so much to Mayor Tory for taking the time. Connect with Mayor Tory on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.